Alexandria, VA – Have you ever needed a helping hand? There’s nothing like getting it, and on Wednesday, Oct. 16, the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington’s St. Lucy Food Project gave ALIVE! (ALexandrians In Volved Ecumenically) 5,000 pounds of non-perishable food! It was also World Food Day, which is known locally as Alexandria Food Day.
“Donating this amount of food in one delivery is just an incredible experience,” said Vincent A. Cannava, program director for the St. Lucy Food Project. “What you see is the result of countless parishes across the diocese offering food to those in need. There are a lot of people who will not go to bed hungry as a result of their generosity.”
Despite chilly and constant rain, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., ALIVE! volunteers collected thousands of pounds of food in front of Alexandria’s City Hall.
The Need Is Increasing
Jennifer Ayers took over as the executive director of ALIVE! in August, and estimates that the charity, which gives out food to 13 food pantries, is seeing a 5 percent increase in demand for its food assistance programs.
“We’re trying to understand it. We’re seeing changes in immigration patterns and we’re also seeing more people come into the City of Alexandria, and we do think a lot of it comes from the high cost of living,” Ayers said.
While Alexandria’s unemployment rate hovers at around 3 percent, having a job doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of poverty. In 2010, 70 percent of more than 12,000 Alexandrians living at or below the federal government’s poverty threshold are employed, according to a 2014 study. That means that one in five Alexandrians are facing a food hardship.
Alexandria Sherriff’s Deputy Morgan Garner was inspired to participate by an article in The Zebra, and donated more than three hours in the rain.
“I love it,” Garner said. “I was born and raised here, so it feels great that I’m able to give back to the people I grew up with, the people who raised me.”